Let’s not forget about the climate emergency: write to your local councillors

It is a year since Oxford City Council held its Citizens Assembly on the climate emergency, and budget planning for next year is beginning at officer level. We are concerned that short-term financial pressures may take priority over climate commitments.

Councillors need to be reminding officers of the crucial importance of sticking to the City Council’s commitments on the climate emergency, and we’d encourage all LCON supporters and other concerned citizens to ask their local councillors to do this.

Below is a template email you can use as the basis for your own communications, and you can find out who your local councillor is, and their contact details, here.

Draft email:

I am aware that Oxford City Council is starting to discuss next year’s budget. I know that many councils, including Oxford, are facing serious financial problems as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and that you will have hard decisions to make.

However I am concerned that measures to tackle the longer term climate emergency may lose funding during this short term crisis.  As a citizen of Oxford I believe strongly that the Council needs to integrate maintaining core services with making the changes that are needed to deliver the climate commitments you made last year as a pioneer among local authorities.

Cutting programmes that reduce emissions and improve our environment may seem like an easy way to save some money, but as your declaration of climate emergency recognises, we have almost no time remaining to tackle these issues and they must be prioritised. Investing in a fossil-free future rather than in the fossil-dependent economy offers real opportunities to create income and employment. Please do your best to prevent a return to the dangerous ‘business as usual’ approach which has brought us to this crisis. Please give as much energy as you can to encouraging the Council to continue to act as a pioneer on addressing our climate crisis. We need action now and we need that action to continue to help us ‘Build Back Better’.

As I’m sure you know, many organisations including the CBI have stressed that we need a green post-Covid recovery plan. In the last week of September, world leaders committed to a ‘pledge for nature’ . These policy positions are based on the ample evidence that when properly designed,  the economic, health, well-being environmental co-benefits of carbon reduction programmes (e.g. zero carbon and energy efficient homes, public green transport, sustainable food initiatives, waste reduction, trees and green spaces, renewable energy etc) can also contribute to the Council’s other important strategic goals to strengthen the local economy, create new jobs, support strong and active communities, promote healthier diets, reduce (fuel) poverty, and ameliorate flooding.

This is a critical time.  I urge you to exercise all your influence not to allow the council to be swayed by ideas of short term snipping away at crucial programmes.  Tackling climate change is not an alternative to delivering core services and addressing inequality – it should be part of that delivery.  Please maintain your commitment to a safe future for all of us.